Dealing with a hit-and-run accident can be a harrowing experience. As responsible drivers, we hope to never find ourselves in such a situation. However, accidents can happen unexpectedly, leaving us confused and unsure of the necessary steps to take. If you or a loved one have been involved in a hit-and-run accident in Arizona, it is essential to know the right course of action to protect your rights and ensure fair compensation for any damages incurred. At Smith & Green, Attorneys At Law, P.L.L.C., we understand the complexities of hit-and-run cases and are here to guide you through the process, ensuring your rights are safeguarded.
Understanding Hit-and-Run Accidents in Arizona
A hit-and-run accident occurs when one of the involved parties leaves the scene of the accident without providing their contact information or rendering aid to the injured. In Arizona, leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal offense, and it is crucial to report such incidents promptly to law enforcement. Even if you are the victim, leaving the scene before reporting the accident can potentially lead to legal consequences.
Key Steps to Take After a Hit-and-Run Accident
After the initial shock of the accident, focus on safety first. If you or anyone else involved in the accident is injured, seek immediate medical attention. If possible, move your vehicle to the side of the road to avoid further collisions.
Try to gather as much information as you can about the hit-and-run driver and their vehicle. Look for any eyewitnesses who might have seen the accident occur, and ask for their contact information. Take photographs of the scene, including any damages to your vehicle and any skid marks or debris on the road.
Call Law Enforcement
Report the accident to the local police or the Arizona Department of Public Safety as soon as possible. Provide them with all the details you have gathered. Filing a police report is crucial for any insurance claims or legal actions you may need to pursue later.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Inform your insurance company about the hit-and-run accident as soon as you can. Review your insurance policy to understand what coverage you have for hit-and-run accidents. Some insurance policies include coverage for uninsured motorists, which can be applicable in such cases.
Consult with an Experienced Hit-and-Run Accident Attorney
Seek legal counsel immediately following the hit-and-run accident. An experienced attorney, like those at Smith & Green, can provide invaluable guidance throughout the process, ensuring your rights are protected, and advocating for the compensation you deserve.
Legal Requirements in Arizona for Hit-and-Run Accidents
In Arizona, motorists are required by law to stop and remain at the scene of an accident when there is any damage to property or injury to a person. The penalties for leaving the scene of an accident can be severe, ranging from fines to imprisonment, depending on the severity of the accident and the injuries involved.
As per Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) §28-661, a driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death is required to provide their name, address, vehicle registration number, and insurance information to the other parties involved. Failure to do so can result in felony charges.
ARS §28-662 outlines the duties of a driver involved in an accident resulting only in damage to a vehicle or other property. In such cases, the driver is required to locate and notify the owner of the damaged property or leave a note with their contact information if the owner cannot be found.
It is essential to remember that, in hit-and-run accidents, the burden of proof lies with the victim. Collecting evidence and working with law enforcement and your attorney to identify the responsible party is critical to seeking justice and obtaining compensation.
Compensation for Hit-and-Run Victims in Arizona
As a hit-and-run accident victim, you may be entitled to compensation for the damages you have suffered. However, seeking compensation in hit-and-run cases can be challenging, especially when the responsible party is unidentified. Thankfully, there are avenues available to pursue compensation, and having a skilled hit-and-run accident attorney on your side can significantly increase your chances of a successful claim.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
If you have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage as part of your auto insurance policy, it can prove invaluable in hit-and-run cases. UM, coverage is designed to protect you in situations where the at-fault driver either has no insurance or cannot be identified, as is the case with hit-and-run accidents. This coverage can help cover medical expenses, property damage, and other losses you may have sustained due to the accident.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Arizona is a no-fault state, meaning that regardless of who caused the accident, each driver’s insurance policy covers their medical expenses up to the policy limits. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is a type of coverage that helps pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and other accident-related costs, regardless of fault. However, not all drivers in Arizona are required to carry PIP coverage, so it is essential to review your policy to determine if you have this protection.
Identifying the Responsible Party
With the assistance of law enforcement and your hit-and-run accident attorney, efforts will be made to identify the responsible party. Eyewitness accounts, traffic camera footage, and other forms of evidence can be used to track down the hit-and-run driver. Once the responsible party is identified, you may be able to pursue a claim against their insurance or directly against them if they lack insurance coverage.
If all attempts to identify the hit-and-run driver fail, or they do not carry adequate insurance, you may still have options. Your hit-and-run accident attorney can help you explore the possibility of filing a civil lawsuit against the unidentified driver. This legal action seeks to hold the driver accountable for their actions and obtain compensation for your losses.
Statute of Limitations
It is essential to act promptly in hit-and-run accident cases, as there is a statute of limitations that restricts the time you have to file a claim. In Arizona, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims resulting from a hit-and-run accident is typically two years from the date of the accident. Failing to file a claim within this timeframe could result in losing your right to seek compensation.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a hit-and-run accident in Arizona, the team at Smith & Green, Attorneys At Law, P.L.L.C. is ready to assist you. Our experienced hit-and-run accident attorneys understand the complexities of these cases and will work tirelessly to protect your rights and seek fair compensation for your damages.
Don’t navigate the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident alone. Contact Smith & Green today for a free consultation and let us help you get the justice you deserve. Your rights matter, and we are here to fight for them.